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By JOACHIM BUWEMBO
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For several months, I have been nursing this secret fear that from East Africa, only Kenya and Rwanda will have a report worth talking about to present at the Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan on October 25-26.

Forty years ago, when both Presidents Paul Kagame and Uhuru Kenyatta were in high school, the first International Declaration on Primary Health Care was made in Almatyin Kazakhstan on September 12, urging all countries to take urgent action to ensure universal access to primary healthcare.

As the world converges on Kazakhstan to take stock next month, the report card for Kenya and Rwanda already shows passing grades.

In my understanding and in plain English, a society has attained universal access if most of its people can get medical treatment for their ailments without its affecting their financial status.

In other words, healthcare should not affect your wallet if there are systems to ensure that you get treated regardless of your financial status. The opposite is where a person has to forgo other necessities like education, food, rent or even savings to get medical treatment for themselves or dependents.

Kenya and Rwanda already have their national health insurance schemes up and running and can show the world how their citizens can obtain treatment without first selling off valuables or incurring debts. Presidents Kenyatta and Kagame have already been showered with accolades by WHO for their efforts in this direction.

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And now like an athlete who surges from behind and overtakes the whole pack in the final lap, Uganda is set to beat the other East African states with a solid report to make in Kazakhstan next month. Thanks to the creativity of our legislators, we can now confidently state that we guarantee medical care for a block of 1,000 citizens.

These one thousand or so citizens are the parents of our MPs, who will now be covered by a tax-funded insurance policy. Applause! Makofi, makofi!

This now completes the provision of cradle-to-grave care, having been backdated to before the MPs were even conceived. Not even those Scandinavian countries can beat us in primary healthcare now. Our parliament is already providing nursery facilities for legislators and staff with babies.

Then the MPs are of course covered for their referrals abroad too. A proposal to provide this service for them even after they lose their seats or retire was already passed.

They also secured burial expenses from the taxpayer after they die. And now this: Their parents! It is a kind of retrospective prenatal care for the MPs. A world first.

And Ugandans should not begrudge their leaders. Every good policy must start somewhere. Although Ugandans have been crying out for a national health programme, which fails to start every financial year, starting off small-scale is one way of starting, with the MPs’ parents.

Starting with everybody would spread the resources too thin to have impact. Uganda’s delegation to Kazakhstan next month can walk with their heads high.

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